The Young Civilians make fun of CHP: First Traditional Folder-Carrying Footrace to the Constitutional Court
Turk government sends reform package to parliament | World | Reuters
We had been pre-occupied by the Ergenekon crime gang case until yesterday. Nowadays, nothing but the constitutional change package is on the agenda.
by Katinka Barysch
Much of the media and the education system used to spread Kemalist ideology. These are not the ingredients of a modern democracy.
Change was inevitable. And in a country with many fault lines and a fair number of fanatics, it was never going to be smooth. Nevertheless, the new system that now seems to be emerging is flawed. The president now hails from the AKP and is accused of using his wide-ranging powers of appointment to fill public bodies with party supporters. The armed forces no longer appear unified or strong enough to depose of the government (they last tried, and failed, in 2007). But they are still fighting to forestall what they regard as the AKP?s growing dominance. The judiciary appears torn in the clash between secularists and pious conservatives. The media is deeply polarised.
[Originally published in Hurriyet Daily News] The “From the Bosphorus: Straight” column, which “represent the consensus opinion of the HÃ¼rriyet Daily News and its editorial board members,” was pretty straight forward two days ago. “Don’t expect us to believe this ‘reform,'” read its headline. The “reform” in question was the new constitutional amendment package that the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government has just proposed. And it was supposedly too bad because it would “essentially make the judiciary an arm of the government.” Well, I am afraid I fail to conform to that “consensus opinion.” I rather agree with what Joost Lagendijk, the chair of the EU’s Joint Parliamentary Committee with Turkey, wrote also in these pages two days ago: “These changes were long overdue and, if and when adopted, will make Turkey a more democratic country.” To tell you why, let me first tell you a true story.
[Originally published in Hurriyet Daily News] One of the much-debated issues in current Turkish politics is the alliance between secular liberals and religious conservatives. The former is a tiny group of pundits, and their popular support is quite small, but their intellectual firepower is strong. The religious conservatives, on the other hand, have a much broader public base, but they need to articulate their demands for broader religious freedom in a more global language, which the liberals do speak. The practical implication of this alliance is the support that most secular liberals have given to the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government since 2002. This is not an unconditional and steady support, though. In fact, most liberals strongly criticize the government and the Prime Minister when they take nationalist or illiberal stances. ErdoÄ?an’s recent blunder about “expelling illegal Armenian immigrants,” for example, was heavily bashed by these pundits. But they continue to think that the AKP is still better than its alternatives, and that it has indeed taken the right steps on several important issues.
[Originally published in Hurriyet Daily News] Prime Minister ErdoÄ?an said something just terrible. As a reaction to the international pressure on Turkey to recognize the ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as genocide, he threatened the illegal Armenian immigrants in Turkey with deportation. “If necessary,” he said to the BBC, “I am going to tell these 100,000, ‘come on, back to your country’.” As terrible as this statement was, the pattern that it reflects was so typical of ErdoÄ?an: He is a man of strong words, and while two out of three things he says is pretty good, the third one messes things up. Just last year, for example, he had criticized the “fascist mentality” that considers minorities as a threat. Just two days before the now-infamous deportation statement, he met with members of the Roma community in Turkey and embraced them in a way that no Turkish prime has ever done. Similarly, on one hand, he is the prime minister who realized some of the most extensive liberalization reforms in Turkey. On the other hand, he is one of most intolerant politicians towards media criticism